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Why Project Phases Aren’t a Project Management Concept

Why Project Phases Aren’t a Project Management Concept
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

There are lots of people who think project phases are a project management related concept. The fact is, project phases are more of a work and deliverable concept. Project phases get confused with the project management process groups defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI): initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. These process groups are a different beast all together.
What Project Phases Really Are

Let’s put the confusion to rest once and for all. Project phases, or sometimes called project lifecycle phases, are high-level summary categories of activities that produce project deliverables. Project phases are usually industry specific and have been established through years of experience in an attempt to create a repeatable approach to efficiently producing products, services or results.

Here are some examples of industry projects with established phases:

  • Construction Projects: planning, approval, design, contracting, construction, and operation
  • Software Projects: planning, requirements, design, develop, test, and implement
  • Six Sigma Projects: plan, define, measure, analyze, improve, and control

So, don’t confuse project phases with project management. Read the Complete Article

Project Planning: Organization and Schedule

Project Planning: Organization and Schedule
By Mark L. Reed

Let’s begin today’s discussion of how to propagate project success with a quick review of the Four Phases of Project Management Lifecycle; which are:

  • Phase One – Concept and Feasibility
  • Phase Two – Organization and Schedule
  • Phase Three – Execution
  • Phase Four – Review/Audit

We have already discussed how to manage a good Phase One – Concept and Feasibility, so that we can take control of our project by doing our very important homework, on the original work that management had already accomplished regarding the time, cost and objectives of your project.

After a successful (stressful?) presentation of our Phase One findings, we now have agreement with our Project Customer to move into the detailed project planning, aka, Phase Two – Organization and Schedule.

Our Phase Two goal is to get buy-in on all the tasks necessary to complete the Execution Phase of the project and to get another agreement from the Project Customer to a +/- 10 of time and cost against the objectives. Read the Complete Article

Take Control of Your Project With Phase One – Concept and Feasibility – Part 1

Take Control of Your Project With Phase One – Concept and Feasibility – Part 1
By Mark L. Reed

We already discussed the difference between a “Business” Lifecycle and a “Project Management” lifecycle and working with the theory that every project is a project within another project; the only project we are responsible and accountable for is our assigned piece of the bigger project. This piece/project is now your number one priority.

We know there are four phases to the project management lifecycle:

  • Phase One – Concept/Feasibility
  • Phase Two – Organization/Schedule
  • Phase Three – Execution
  • Phase Four – Review/Audit

When your boss calls you into the office and tells you that you have six months and one million dollars to do this and that, you really need to make sure you can do it, before agreeing to succeed.

This is where Phase One – Concept/Feasibility begins your Project Management Lifecycle and sets you up to succeed; and if your piece succeeds, then you have done all you possibly can towards the success of the bigger project. Read the Complete Article

Choose an Appropriate Project Lifecycle

Choose an Appropriate Project Lifecycle
By Johanna Rothman

If you haven’t thought about lifecycles, consider the differences between these kinds of lifecycles:

  • Linear: Waterfall and waterfall with feedback
  • Iterative: Spiral, where the whole product is up for grabs each time
  • Incremental: Where you add to the product in pieces
  • Agile: cycles (iterations) of chunks (increments): Add to the product in pieces, where each iteration you can deal with the whole product.
  • Random: code and fix

If you’re building a tangible product, you can use linear or an iterative lifecycle. In an iterative lifecycle, you’d iterate on prototypes, and then engineer the entire product at the end. If you’re building a software-only product, iterative lifecycles can be difficult to complete. Too often, sponsors or management pressures the project team into releasing before they’ve engineered the whole product.

Incremental lifecycles are fabulous for software projects, and they are particularly wonderful for short projects. Read the Complete Article

The “Final Implementation” in Project Management

The “Final Implementation” in Project Management
By Susan Peterson

Near the end of the project executing phase project plans display that elusive milestone designated as “final implementation”. When many project managers see that milestone looming on their Gantt charts, they often feel that their work is nearing completion. However, the challenges may have just started. This article identifies implementation concerns that need to be addressed during the initiating and planning phases. Despite the emphasis on all of the project management phases, it’s the implementation that leaves the lasting impression in the memories of customers, clients, and users.


During the initiating phase final implementation is often defined in tangible terms of specific solutions such as “install software system”, “introduce new product”, or “construct manufacturing facility”. The definition of goals in terms of accomplishments is often overlooked. Why is the software system being installed? What will be gained by introducing the new product? Read the Complete Article

The Cyclical Phase in Project Management

The Cyclical Phase in Project Management (#29 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

The working methods in the cyclical phase are borrowed from XP. In this phase, a number of cycles are performed in succession. A cycle lasts no more than one to two weeks. The following activities take place within each cycle:

  • Planning
  • Examination of Functionalities
  • Design of Functionalities
  • Implementation of Functionalities
  • Testing of Functionalities
  • Delivery of Functionalities


At the end of the design phase, an estimate is made of the number of cycles that will be needed to achieve the project goal. This occurs according to the functional and technical design. Cycles are never long; they usually last between two and four weeks. A cycle always includes the activities of planning, investigating, designing, implementation, testing and delivery. Each cycle, therefore involves only a few functionalities (or sometimes only one).

The procedures for planning are as follows. Read the Complete Article

Project Definition Phase

Project Definition Phase (#27 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

After a project plan has been approved, the project enters the second phase: definition phase. In this phase, the requirements that are associated with the result of the project are determined as clearly and as completely as possible. This is in order to identify the expectations that all involved parties have for the project result. This list (mentioned previously) can serve as a memory aid in this regard:

  • Preconditions
  • Functional requirements
  • Operational requirements
  • Design limitations

The collaboration of all parties that are involved in a project is very important in the definition phase, particularly the end users who will actually use the project result.

Activities in the Project Definition Phase

  • Compile list of requirements together with client, (possible) customer, end users, experts and project team.
  • Balance requirements.
  • Test the feasibility of the requirements.
  • Report to client, customer or both about the requirements.
Read the Complete Article

Project Lifecycle Overview – Part I

Project Lifecycle Overview – Part I (#1 in the series Project Lifecycle Overview)
By Jessica Popp

Software Project Management Process

A picture is worth a thousand words so I thought I would start with a diagram. I recently had the need to explain an overview of the Project Lifecycle within the context of software development so I thought it would be worth sharing here. This diagram is by no means original or even possibly unique. The initiating, planning, executing (implementation), monitor and control and closing match the PMBOK definition for project process and the sub-processes are generally agreed upon across the industry, but everyone enjoys a good picture and so here is mine for explaining how things work.

While some of the sub-processes may software specific (HLD, DLD, system testing to name a few) the overall process is applicable to any field of interest. Here I will talk about the main processes (Initiation, Planning, Implementation, Monitor and Control and Closing). Read the Complete Article

Running the Project and Stage-Gate Reviews

Running the Project and Stage-Gate Reviews
By The Office of Government Commerce – OGC, UK

The complexity and context for the project will determine whether the implementation phase of the project is carried out in a single stage or broken down into two or more stages so that appropriate levels of management control can be applied. Each stage ends with a decision point on whether to continue with the project or not; this is a stage boundary, a control point in the project when progress and deliverables are reviewed by senior management before approval to proceed to the next stage. Where applicable, these decision points are preceded by Gateway reviews.

Planning and controlling each stage as well as managing product delivery are key project management processes that are supported by Project Plans and reports against such plans. Monitoring and control activities need to be in place to ensure that a stage stays on course and responds to unexpected events. Read the Complete Article

The Purpose of Project Initiation and Project Organization

The Purpose of Project Initiation and Project Organization
By The Office of Government Commerce – OGC, UK

Project initiation involves clear definition including the clarification of scope, resources, responsibilities, and plans. This activity is dedicated to establishing a firm foundation and planning the work to be done. A key purpose of this activity is to draw up an agreed way forward based on the initial scope to ensure there is a common understanding of the rationale and aims of the project. This includes planning how quality is achieved and the subsequent work will be conducted. The level of risk for the project needs to be determined at this point.

Project organisation is determined as an essential task in the project start-up activities. The roles are assigned (investment decision maker and other key roles); project management responsibilities assigned and the project team assembled. If required, the project board members are nominated at this point. Read the Complete Article

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